EU sets new environmental standards for food, drink and milk

Out-Law News | 31 Jan 2020 | 2:42 pm | 1 min. read

New standards aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the EU's food, drink and milk industries have been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

The new bestavailable techniques (BAT) reference document (BREF) for the sectors covers emissions to air, water consumption and waste water discharge, energy efficiency and resource efficiency, among other things. BATs are the most cost effective techniques available to achieve a high level of environmental protection, and are used by EU member states to set permit conditions for industrial installations covered by the Industrial Emissions Directive.

The BREF applies to the treatment and processing, other than exclusively packaging, of animal or vegetable raw materials - whether processed or unprocessed - intended for production of food or feed and milk above certain daily production levels. It does not apply to slaughterhouses or the production of products from animal by-products, which are covered by separate BREFs.

Messent Georgie

Georgie Messent

Partner, Head of Environment

[The new] requirements obviously give rise to the potential need to change practices and procedures, as well as associated cost implications.

The document lists the types of emissions to air or water that must be monitored for various processes, and how often that monitoring must take place. It also sets out

BATs for increasing energy and resource efficiency; preventing or reducing the use of harmful substances; preventing or reducing noise and odour; and reducing water consumption and volume of waste water discharged.

Environmental law expert Georgie Messent of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "Both types of requirements obviously give rise to the potential need to change practices and procedures, as well as associated cost implications".

Existing installations will have four years to comply with the BATs set out in the BREF. New installations will be required to comply immediately.

"The new requirements as set out in the BAT document will add another layer of complexity to an already highly regulated sector," said Georgie Messent. "Companies will need to work closely with their technical support teams to investigate the most cost-effective way of meeting the new demands and new facilities will need to be designed with these requirements in mind."